LEARNING FROM A PRO: TCCHS student Jalen Peterson learns how to properly remove gloves from SRTC Accelerated Nurse Aid Instructor Karen Kelso.

THOMASVILLE – A recent postsecondary event aimed to show local high school students that they don’t have to move far away or pay high tuition prices to receive a college education.

Thomas County Central High School held a Southern Regional Technical College Programs Fair on Thursday, Feb. 15. Representatives from SRTC’s career pathways set up booths and met with select junior and senior classes.

TCCHS Senior Guidance Counselor Tammy Shealey said the partnership between TCCHS and SRTC enables high school students to discover career paths available within their community.

“Our students are able to obtain the training they need at the postsecondary level without having to leave Thomasville,” she said. “I was thrilled to be able to have 16 programs from SRTC come to the school to speak with our students and showcase various careers that are relevant to our community.”

SRTC cosmetology student Anna Cooper embodies success in this process. She will graduate this year and has an apprenticeship at a local style bar, where she plans to work after graduation.

“We want to show people they have a great school right down the road,” Cooper said. “You don’t have to go to a fancy school and spend buckets of money; you can go down the road and get just as good of an education.”

Some other programs at the fair included early childhood education, welding, business and medical assisting.

“We are here to build our program and promote it,” Sherry Harrison, medical assisting program chair, said. “An event like this is great because it gives students the opportunity to gain valuable insight into this and other programs.”

Participants say this program is a great way to start a medical career.

“This is a starting point in a broad field,” student Shelby Cardin said. “You can learn anything from administration to clinical.”

Plus, the possibilities are endless.

“There are no limits to healthcare,” student Tania Licona said.

Dr. Temple Ogundu, business program chair, said his program’s goal is to prepare students for entry into management and supervisory positions within a wide variety of businesses and industries and to foster entrepreneurs in this service area of South Georgia.

One way it strives to do this is by offering the Business Development Plan course, which instructs students on developing a business plan, running a business successfully and being self-employed.

“That class guides students through the process of setting up their whole business,” Ogundu said. “It gives them the knowledge they need to be their own boss.”

But the course is not only for business students; it can also be an elective for other programs.

“Whatever career you want, you can still take this class,” he said.

TCCHS students appreciated having such an event. Junior Hannah “Alex” Hankins enjoyed the experience.

“It helped me discover career opportunities by learning more about the types of jobs open in the fields I had the most interest in,” Hankins said. “All in all, it was a pretty fun experience with some good hands-on activities to show what a day in that field is like. For example, at the early childhood education table, we got to make little bookmarks.”

The career path that most interested the youth was computer information systems.

“I found this one the most interesting, as while I love working with animals, my skills more closely align with working with technology and its systems,” Hankins said. “I learned that not only do coding and software play a role in that field, but being able to plan and design mechanisms and systems also has a huge role in it.”

Senior Sean Siddell also found the fair helpful.

“It helped me discover more local career and postsecondary options by allowing me to talk with some of the students in those classes or careers,” he said. “It also allowed me to talk to the professors themselves to find out more about their programs.”

Two career paths represented at the fair caught Siddell’s interest: land management and welding.

“I love working outside, and I like operating equipment, and to also get to see some of the multiple opportunities that I could have in that field (land management) was interesting,” he said. “I’ve always loved to weld and fabricate, so to be able to see some of the things and learn more about the opportunities in the welding industry was interesting, too.”

But no matter the career path, current SRTC cosmetology student Heather Dailey had solid advice for all prospective pupils.

“SRTC is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who wants a good education to follow their dream,” Dailey said. “Whatever you feel like you wanna do, find your dream. Don’t let anything stop you.”

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